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List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-24-2006, 07:08 PM   #1
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List of countries offering retirement visas?

Given that a number of members on this board retired overseas, are thinking about it, or are perpetual travelers, I though that someone here may know the answer.

In my search for a potential overseas FI spot, I have found out that both Japan and Singapore do not offer retirement visas. The person I spoke with at Singapore’s consulate noted that most countries don’t offer such visas. That got me thinking. Instead of researching countries I may want to try out and then finding out if it is possible to retire there, it would be MUCH more efficient to limit my research to a list of countries that offer retirement visas (such a list could also help others on this board).

I have seen numerous lists of “retirement havens” in the popular press, but does anyone know of/have a definitive list of which countries offer retirement visas (my main interests are Asia and Western Europe)? I am only interested in places where I can legally retire – I have no interest in places where I would have to leave and return every 3 months.

If any of you happen to have a list in your head based on experience/research, it would be much appreciated if you passed it along.

Thanks very much, Saver
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-24-2006, 07:27 PM   #2
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

In asia, I have heard the following have retirement visas.
Malaysia (my second home program)
Philippines
Indonesia
Australia
Thailand but the rules seem to be in flux

Mike
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-24-2006, 08:31 PM   #3
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

I've asked this question a couple times. Nobody seems to have a list in their heads.

I've researched various countries on my own. Often the information is available on the embassy web page of that country. If you are confused by what you find, try the Lonely Planet thorn tree forums. But don't ask a question without searching their archives first.

Good luck--be sure to report the results of your research here.

Oops, forgot to mention the countries I know about:

Slovakia and Czech republic: No dice. There is a special ex-patriot program that grants a special passport to descendents of Slovak descent (in Slovakia), but you have to show knowledge of Slovak language and culture, which could be tough unless you were raised in a Slovak-speaking family.

Mexico: FM3 is relatively easy to obtain. You have to have a certified income of $1500 plus $500 per dependent (the amount may have changed since I read about it.) Lots of paperwork but many Americans and Canadians have done it. Mexico wants retirees, but it does not want people to compete with Mexicans for jobs.
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-24-2006, 09:35 PM   #4
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

Thanks for the responses. MikeW ... you mentioned that retirement visa requirements in Thailand seemed to be in flux. May I ask what you've been hearing? From what I read, one can retire there if you are 50 years old and meet some other requirements, but there is at least one person on this board who I believe is retired there and in his 30s... I tried calling the immigration office in Thailand to clear things up and got lost in an infinite telephone menu loop.

Saver
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-25-2006, 12:39 AM   #5
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

My understanding is that the Thai retirement visa requirements have not changed. You have to be 50 and show a small (by American standards) amount of money in the bank, and you may have to do this every year (there are other requirements, but that is the main one). Check thaivisa.com for the latest. But a lot of things are in flux right now, so caution is in order.

The person in his 30s is Ben, and he got grandfathered in with an investment type visa for buying property, which you can do at any age, I believe. The requirement for this type of visa has risen considerably in recent months (I think you may have to buy a 10 Million baht condo now, ~260K US $, was something like 3 Million baht before).

It is possible for an American to retire in Mexico on an FM3 visa at any age just by showing a certain asset level in the bank each year (it is something like $17K for a single person, I don't remember exactly). You do not actually need a certain income. I did extensive research to confirm this, and was pleasantly surprised. There is info at chapala.com web board.

Kramer
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-25-2006, 01:35 PM   #6
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saver
Thanks for the responses. MikeW ... you mentioned that retirement visa requirements in Thailand seemed to be in flux. May I ask what you've been hearing? From what I read, one can retire there if you are 50 years old and meet some other requirements, but there is at least one person on this board who I believe is retired there and in his 30s... I tried calling the immigration office in Thailand to clear things up and got lost in an infinite telephone menu loop.

Saver
Being retired in Thailand and getting a retirement visa are 2 different things. Many expat living in Thailand used to do a border run every 30 days because they could not get a retirement visa because they were under 50. I am going to Thailand this November and got a non-immigrant type "O" visa good upto one year with a border run every 90 days. This visa did not have any requirements other than $125. If you retire in Thailand but plan to return to your "home" country once a year then this visa would work for you. I don't know if this type of visa can be only gotten, only in your home or in any other foreign country. Perhaps other countries have a similar type of visa.
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-25-2006, 01:53 PM   #7
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

Things in Thailand might be shaking up a bit:

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.ph...=231&Itemid=31
Quote:
New immigration rules are intended to stop people like Jay using border stamps and tourist visas to live and work here, ending so-called grey migration, mostly from developed countries, and turfing out a growing criminal fraternity. While the aims are laudable, the dragnet might prove to be an own goal for the economy. Legitimate small businesses are more easily drawn to the rational structure in Singapore while neighboring Cambodia is happy to grant multiple entry business visas to anybody with $25. The legions of itinerant – but solvent – long term visitors in Thailand could soon be packing up.

In September, after three years of thinking it over, the immigration department announced that from October it would only allow foreigners without visas to visit for no more than a cumulative three months in any six month period. Airlines risk fines if passengers without confirmed return tickets are denied entry at immigration because their three month allowance is up.

Immigration officers are directing those who have used up their three months to apply for visas at a Thai embassy. Passports full of visa exemption stamps and a handful of tourist visas may not fare well, though. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which determines visa policy, has advised its consuls to use more discretion when considering tourist visa applications.
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 10-25-2006, 09:25 PM   #8
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

Thanks again for your replies. It looks like there will only be a relative handful of countries that offer retirement visas, and some have age requirements of 50+ years old (I plan to stop working before then). On the one hand this can be seen as disappointing, but an abundance of choices can also lead to difficulties, so the situation could be seen as a blessing in disguise. I will definitely have to do more work on the topic, but that will take more than an evening to accomplish. For now I will add to the discussion by passing along the article segment pasted below. For those of you with any information, please keep those lists coming.

From the Taiwan Review (written in September 2006)… an article about Taiwan wanting to attract Japanese retirees:

“All long-stay programs in the region have both financial and age requirements for the issuing of retirement visas. Malaysia's Malaysia My Second Home Program has no age limit but requires a bank deposit of about US$40,000. Thailand's retirement visa program is only available to those above 50 and requires a bank deposit of US$23,000. For the Philippines the age limit is 35 and the financial requirement US$50,000. Taiwan's long-stay visas will only be available to Japanese aged above 55 and require proof of US$50,000 in funds.”

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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 12-04-2006, 07:55 PM   #9
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Re: List of countries offering retirement visas?

A bit of an update for the Philippines. The retirement visa is called the SRRV. The amount of invetsment required is not fixed at $50,000 USD but varies from a max of $75,000 to as low as $1,500. There are new monthly income-based plans (similar to Thailand's visa program) and a new program involving paid employment where the qualified retiree works at a paid job (teaching, consulting, etc.) at the direction of the governement and gets a visa in retirn.

The required investment may be used to purchase a retirement condominium so for those who would care for upscale condo living (or rental profits in the larger cities) the investment may actually be somewhat moot.

However, a foreigner can live in the Philippines as long as he or she wishes in a tourist status if they choose to extend their tourist visa every two months and leave the country (perhaps a $99 RT to Kulala Lumpur) for as little as one day and then return. I'm living as a permanent resident based on my wife's (a Philippine/US dual-citizen) sponsorship, but I know hundreds of foreigners who are living here long-term with no investment.

RP

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Old 11-28-2008, 09:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
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.....

The required investment may be used to purchase a retirement condominium so for those who would care for upscale condo living (or rental profits in the larger cities) the investment may actually be somewhat moot. ....

However, a foreigner can live in the Philippines as long as he or she wishes in a tourist status if they choose to extend their tourist visa every two months and leave the country (perhaps a $99 RT to Kulala Lumpur) for as little as one day and then return...

RP

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I've been away from the forum for a long time ... nice to be back. A couple updates to my updates above from last year.

It appears there is not/may not be an employment-based option on the Philippine SRRV (Special Resident Retirement Visa) program. The program does however continue to expand and now has a compete category for those who are retiring with an income. Over 50's with $10,000 USD can now avail if they have proof of $800 USD (single) and $1,000 USD (family) per month. In addition to the older condo purchase option the visa requestor may use the required invetment of approved golf club membership(s) or the long term lease of a home.

An example of leases might be something like former US Navy familt housing on the Subic Bay Freeport complex for example rates of $200/$300 IUSD pe rmonth on a 25 year lease. Shorter terms and other areas are certianly possible, I just happen to be a big fan of Subic.

The toursit visa is now good for two years before a trip outsie the country is required, a recent change.
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Old 11-30-2008, 05:15 PM   #11
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France offers a "long stay visa for non-professional purposes" which is effectively a retirement visa.

Long stay visa for non professional purpose - Consulat Général de France Ã* Washington

It seems pretty easy to obtain.
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Old 11-30-2008, 07:25 PM   #12
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Interesting and thanks for that update, FIREdreamer. If the visa allows the retiree access to France's health care system it would indeed be something to consider very seriously. Americans (who make up most of the membership here) tend to think of US health care as numbe rone, but in fact it's number one only in terms of cost. france is ranked by the WHO as numbe rone in the world, while the most exspensive US system manages only a distant 17th place.
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Old 11-30-2008, 08:14 PM   #13
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Interesting and thanks for that update, FIREdreamer. If the visa allows the retiree access to France's health care system it would indeed be something to consider very seriously. Americans (who make up most of the membership here) tend to think of US health care as numbe rone, but in fact it's number one only in terms of cost. france is ranked by the WHO as numbe rone in the world, while the most exspensive US system manages only a distant 17th place.
I know for sure that you would be able to easily access France's healthcare system if 1) you are an alien working/studying in France or 2) you are an alien married to a French citizen. For a foreign retiree though, things get a bit dicier. I found these articles which apply to UK citizens retiring in France:

French Healthcare for Retired Expats - New Life In France (UK)

Healthcare cover changes in France - what you need to know from FrenchEntrée.com

Expats fear health cover could vanish as French tighten rules - Times Online

It seems like it's getting harder for foreign retirees to enjoy all the benefits of the French healthcare system, especially its low cost.
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Old 12-06-2008, 01:16 PM   #14
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Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Oman. They will give you a residence visa if you buy a property.
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:03 AM   #15
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Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Oman. They will give you a residence visa if you buy a property.
Hi Billman

This is not entirely true, after buying 4 properties there, and staking my whole lifes work into the place, i now find out that they have an upper age limit of 60, as i am 59 in a couple of months, i would be in danger of getting bounced out.

to explain more, on the contract with the developer, it states that they will sponser you to get a residency visa, in August this year, the immigration dept, said that it was up to them not the property developer who hands out these 3 year visas, and they shouldn't have sold it that way.

I phoned the embassy here in London, and was told as a UK national all i needed to do, was take the deeds to my property, along with a medical certificate, and a 3 year visa will be stamped in it, my problem is the upper age limit of 60, as i will be 62 when i come to renew that, i could be rejected.

I am devistated by the news, and will find out more next week, if i can talk to a lawyer, the point here, and i will email Sheikh Mohammad, if i mhave to, as the mantra has always been "I will build it and they will come"

well i would like to and spend my life there.

Alan
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:54 PM   #16
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Malaysia (as someone mentioned above) is definitely interested in attracting retired people, I don't remember the details, but the requirements were quite reasonable.

I don't know what other Asian countries are like, but Malaysia is very good for English speakers. Local newspapers, magazines and TV are often in English. I walked into shops and spoke to shop assistants without it crossing my mind that they might not understand English. They always did.

The countryside is beautiful, the roads are good. The houses in new developments not only cost a fraction of the prices I'm used to, they are actually far nicer architecture. The only aspect I don't agree with is bathrooms are always built as wet rooms. I don't want to get my feet wet when I go for purposes other than having a shower, so I'd ask the builders for a screened off shower area in mine.

Not sure if I could cope with the heat though.
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Old 12-29-2008, 06:44 PM   #17
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I recently read the following book:

Amazon.com: Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America (Process Self-reliance Series): Mark Ehrman: Books

This book contains info on visa and citizenship requirements for a wide variety of favorite (and not-so-favorite) retiree destinations as of 2006. If I had been the book's editor, I would have deleted the brief anti-America sentiments scattered here and there - these are opinion, not fact, and aren't relevant or useful in a non-fiction book. That said, the factual info (even if a bit dated) was worth the purchase price.

If someone pointed a gun at me and demanded that I expatriate (some folks on this board did this during the 2008 election season ), I'd be considering either Australia or Switzerland as homes-away-from-home based on the information in the book.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:11 PM   #18
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Malaysia (as someone mentioned above) is definitely interested in attracting retired people, I don't remember the details, but the requirements were quite reasonable.
It's been on my radar lately too. I never knew much about Malaysia but recently read an article about how commonly English and Chinese are spoken there and figured hey that would make life easier as I speak both English and Chinese. The retirement program looks pretty solid too.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:14 PM   #19
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Also - it's not really a retirement Visa but I believe India offers a 10 year multiple entry tourist visa, which from the angle of "move somewhere cheaper" is pretty much the same thing.

Of course India offers it's own set of challenges aside from border traipsability but it's a very diverse country and Westerners seem to either love it or hate it.
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Old 02-04-2009, 06:45 PM   #20
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I've looked into these as well... in South America anyway, Panama has an "investor visa" (no age minimum) where you put $200K in a 4% CD at their bank for a few years and get residency status ( Panama Visa and Residency Information ).

Costa Rica is a little cheaper with $75K CD or $600-$1K a month proof of income from pension or investments ( Costa Rica Guide: Permanent Visas ).

Argentina is similar with their investor/Rentista residency visa, you just need proof of $800 a month income from investments ( Argentina Guide: Residence Visa ).
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